Tony Konecny of YES PLZ Coffee
I’m excited to present the second installment in the #myAMritual series, featuring Tony Konecny, the co founder of YES PLZ Coffee. A new coffee subscription company that has made waves since launching their Kickstarter campaign and going live late last year. It also doesn’t hurt that Tony’s previous coffee subscription company Tonx had a very good reputation - both within the industry and with it’s customers.
Beyond the coffee itself, Tony and co founder, Sumi Ali have taken on the momentous task of publishing YES PLZ Weekly, a newspaper like magazine. Spoiler: It’s freakin’ awesome and I love what they’re doing.
I pretty much fell into coffee accidentally
Tony and I sat down at his home in Echo Park, CA to talk a bit about his history as a coffee roaster and his daily routine.
Tony came up in the Seattle coffee scene in the early 2000’s. But at he puts it, “I pretty much fell into coffee accidentally. There wasn’t really a path to seeing that coffee could be a career. You didn’t become a barista because you thought it was a stepping stone into the coffee industry…but for the people that were involved with it, the love was real.”
From the start, Tony was meticulous about taking notes by hand during the roasting process. Using notebooks would allow him to reference those in the cupping sessions. And even though his boss at the time didn’t think he was ‘getting it’ by relying so heavily on his notes - fast forward 15 years later and he’s still rockin out with a stack of notebooks. All while launching his second coffee subscription company. So yeah…I think he’s doing ok with his method.
Tony moved to Los Angeles for the Silverlake Intelligentsia project. Make sure to check out some of photos from the concepting - build out phase that he posted on his IG account during that time here and here. It’s so amazing to see a young Kyle Glanville before his Go Get Em Tiger days, as well as many others who all went on to make a name of their own in the world of speciality coffee.
On a personal level - Intelligentsia was one of my first, big LA coffee experiences. We live about a mile or so north of it and when I heard about it, I knew I had to go and see for myself. (this is around 2010) Then, one night, I was riding my bike and decided to visit. Unfortunately, they were closing within around 30 minutes, but I remember ordering a drink and just sitting there looking around, journaling and taking it all in. Even though I don’t go there as often as I once did, that cafe holds a special spot in my LA coffee journey.
Yet, unlike my experience of having Intelligencia readily available, Tony’s experience was far different upon his arrival in the early 2000’s. Los Angeles, as he puts it, was a wasteland when it came to getting a good espresso.
Which is crazy to even think of when you look at the state of the LA coffee scene today - in early 2019. But it took having people like Tony and many of the other young coffee professionals to lay down the groundwork that would allow so many amazing shops to open.
If you find yourself at a coffee shop in either Echo Park or Silverlake, you’ll eventually see Tony sitting at the bar with his iPad Pro, working away. Like me, he feeds off the vibe of people in the cafe - and the energy of the city. As Tony puts it, “Los Angeles has this vibrant culture of people who are out there on the grind everyday, hustling…people sort of carve out their own paths.”
Special shout out to Woodcat Coffee in Echo Park for letting us film at their location.